With 900 million electric vehicles expected by 2040, the European Union will have to increase its supply 19-fold in the next decade alone. To alleviate the pressure on the battery supply chain, the national cluster of raw materials and sustainable mining (ISMC), based in the Technological Park of León, is one of the precursors of the project “EU circular BATtery Valley for second life, recycling, and re-manufacturing of materials and black MASS: BATMASS” whose funding, through the European Commission’s instrument “I3” or Interregional Innovation Investments, amounts to €9,765,017.65 for its initial 30-month implementation. The aim is to “stop the dependence on foreign sources of essential raw materials (lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, graphite, etc.), as we only produce 1% of the total raw materials for batteries. These materials are often extracted under questionable socio-environmental conditions and expose the EU to price volatility and limited sovereignty. Circularity is the solution,” underlined the cluster’s CEO and technology expert Santiago Cuesta López.

However, currently, only 10% of battery materials are recovered and only 1-3% of lithium is recovered worldwide, so “new processes and technologies are required, as well as a portfolio of interregional investments in TRL6+ innovations and circular processes for raw materials,” explained Cuesta López, since, “this interregional ecosystem is integrated around four demonstrators and will scale up, commercialise and deploy innovative green technologies. Another of the objectives is to generate income after the initial phase, in addition to joining forces for European recovery. BATMASS will save 59,000 tonnes of precursor materials and contribute to achieving the EU’s strategic objectives on resilience and the environment,” he said.

The BATMASS project consortium is made up of 22 entities from Spain, France, Italy and Slovenia, which have joined forces in the creation of this international network for battery recycling and the implementation of industrial pilots, and whose ambition is to establish a circular battery economy throughout the southern axis of Europe. The role of ISMC in the creation of this network has been, and is, paramount, facilitating international cooperation, industrial development and the transfer of innovation to industry, “the cluster thus contributes to its objectives of sustainability and modernisation of industry in the field of clean energy, leading innovation projects in materials and technologies for the recycling of raw materials in industrial value chains as relevant to European society as electromobility and stationary energy storage”, explained Cuesta López.